Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Unreality TV

There are two martial arts shows on the tube I've been watching of late. One is Human Weapon, on the History Channel; the other is newer, but essentially a clone of the first, called Fight Quest, on the Discovery Channel. Oddly enough, the second was put into production before the first one hit the screens. And I know of a third one that was on the drawing board months ago, being considered by the National Geographic Channel.

Great minds think alike.

Or, maybe not-so-great minds think alike ...

Um. If you haven't seen these, here's the deal. Two jock-y guys, one little and trained in MMA or kickboxing, and one bigger one, a wrestler-slash-other, fly into an exotic location, hook up with reps of the local indigenous martial art, split up, and commence to study for four or five days. At the end of this period, they go against the local champions, to test their new skills.

The local color is fun, the travelogue aspects interesting, but it's about as realistic as a Shakespeare play wherein all the characters are portrayed by hairy-legged men. Or maybe Noh theater ...

I mean, come on! You been doing this stuff day in, day out, for eight, ten years, and some round-eyed Yankee comes in, and after getting thumped and wrecking his body for four days trying to keep up, to the point he can barely stand, is going to turn around and kick your ass?

It was me, I'd be too embarrassed to show my face in that country for the rest of my life -- assuming I didn't find a bridge from which to jump after being shamed thus, so that said life would be mercifully short. If, of course, the matches were real ...

Sure, a good fighter can hold his own against the locals in a lot of arts, using what he already knows, but to pretend that he can come in and spend four days training in it and then use only that art to run with local guy who has years of experience? That's not just silly -- it's flat-out insulting.

And yet, the Discovery and History boys usually manage to take at least a round or two, and sometimes, fight a match to a draw!

Talk about quick studies.

Talk about utter crap.

If you are thinking that perhaps the locals pull their punches? Well, not to put too fine a point on, they surely fucking do.

Jeez, some of these guys ought to be on their Olympic diving teams the way they go down. I saw one silat guy on the History show get tapped by an instep that you might use to move your beloved kitten over so you wouldn't accidentally step on her, and the guy thus touched flew through the air like like frog with a Saturn rocket jammed up his ass. I nearly choked I laughed so hard. (At the end of the match, they did the replay in slowmo, and oh, how sad it was.)

I would not find it unbelievable to learn that money changes hands, and that somewhere in the future some of these karate-kung-fu-silat guys are going to be talking to their brothers saying they coulda been contenders, if they hadn't taken the money and laid down ...

Sans bribes, it must be from having a sense of leaving somebody face that the locals usually allow the TV stars to win one match, or a round, at least.

Not always. The Discovery boys, who -- gotta give it to them -- get the crap beat out of them pretty good and keep going, much more so than the History boys, got shut out in their silat matches against the mande muda players. This even though the locals were sticking legs out and leaving punches dangling like skinned rabbits hung up to ripen. I could have booked a flight from Beaverton to Jakarta, got there, landed, and hiked to the match in time to catch some of those kicks and punches.

From there I sat, the locals were either the worst silat players on God's green Earth, or they were completely dogging it for the cameras, and even so, they still won every round, which says something, I'm not sure what. Maybe that if the round-eyes couldn't win with all those gimmes, they deserved to get their asses kicked.

I can't watch these with my wife dozing in her chair in the room -- me yelling "Bullshit! Bullshit!" at the screen wakes her up.

But if you need a good laugh, watch the episodes they did, or plan to on your art. It will be passing funny, trust me ...


Ed said...

How can anything look good - after 4 days - when these guys are trying something new or at best different from what there bodies are used too and then win the match when they can't even lift a leg to block or kick after a week of stressing/bruising everything out. I love it when the host team on the sideline starts cracking up, laughing out loud and pointing when our guys get a shot in and they are just ribbing their own guy. These shows should help move up the invasion plans the countries have for us.

Sean said...

I would rather see these guys spend the hour learning about the art instead of always having this goofy competition. The Fightquest guys did a better job than the Human Weapon and Last Man Standing, but not by much. It all feels so contrived.